“Every night when I go to bed, I worry about how I’ll fulfill all the promises I’ve made. And every morning when I wake up, I think I haven’t made enough promises.” Dr. Paul Farmer
I have always been a busy person – between school, sports, and all my other extracurriculars, long days have become somewhat synonymous with normal life. But Haitian days are different. Most days feel like entire weeks and when my head hits the pillow the mental list of everything that needs to be done and every person who needs something from me flies through my mind.
The conversation I had with my boss a week or so ago went something like this: “Barbara, how can we accept anymore patients into the medical outreach program? We do not even have time to take care of the patients that are in it now. We don’t have enough time, staff, or money to do what we need to do. We need to step back for a little bit.”
The medical outreach program (MOPs) is for the chronic/surgical patients that we meet in the villages. The program just kind of developed over the years as we came across bigger needs in the villages. The North American medical staff (all 3 of us!) just tries to use any free time we have to check up on people and get them to the necessary doctors appointments.
MOPs is undoubtedly one of my favorite parts of my job. If you have read past blogs you have heard about some of our MOPs patients – Anasta and Kleffson . When we take patients into MOPs, we inevitably get to know their whole family and we become a source of hope. Whether or not they are a Christian, we get to be Jesus in their lives and love them despite their ailment. We become the person that they call 37 times in a row when they need something and the person that they sit next to at church because they have nobody else to sit next to. We get to be with them on their hardest days and rejoice with them when the surgery is over.
I stand by my statement that MOPS is one of my favorite parts of my job, but it is also one of the most heart wrenching. The problem with helping get people health care in Haiti is that a lot of times health care here in general really stinks. Oftentimes, there is nobody to do the surgery or nobody with that specialty in the entire country. A few weeks back I woke up to news that a little girl in our program that I had just seen the day before passed away. A large part of me felt like I had not done enough or did not work fast enough. Or maybe had I paid more attention I would have been able to prevent it. I realize now that is not true, and I have found comfort that this little girl is no longer suffering and is with her heavenly and just loving Father. While I would have loved to see her healed this side of heaven, that was not in the Lord’s plan and He remains good and worthy of worship.
This little girl’s passing played a significant role in my decision to tell Barbara that MOPs needed to go on hold. I felt like I could not take any more patients on. All day, every day my head was just constantly thinking about these people and what needed to get done. The list was never ending and overwhelming and just kept growing.
But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 1 John 3:17
But then last Tuesday I met a little girl named Amalie. Amalie is fourteen years old and weighs around 60 pounds. She has suffered much abuse in her life and resides in a family who tells her she is stupid and unable to learn. A few days prior to coming to the mobile clinic she was raped. As her mother was telling me what happened, tears began welling up in my eyes as I stared at this tiny little girl with absolutely no emotion on her face; she was hopeless. It was at this moment I realized that something had to be done. So I grabbed Raquel and we decided to get her to our clinic the next day and in our MOPs program. While we do not have the time or manpower to take on another person, cliché or not – I know that this is what Jesus would do. Now we have the unique opportunity to get to know this fragile little girl and show her how deeply loved she is for probably the first time in her life. Since I met her I have been praying for healing in her life, but really I have only found comfort that Jesus Christ truly understands her suffering, and has also provided an end to it once and for all.
Meeting Amalie showed me that it is not my job to worry about having enough time or money or people. My job is to trust that Jesus will provide what I need to serve Him. Most days I want to live logically, I want to plan out our MOPs budget and live in a comfortable manner. But how does that leave room for God to show up? I think if we are able to accomplish it ourselves then there’s really no need for God. It is the days when you don’t have enough time, when you don’t have enough money, when you surely don’t have enough people to accomplish the task at hand that you rely on God to show up and trust that He will.
If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. Isaiah 58:10-11